by Jacob G. Hornberger
Conservative Pat Buchanan went off on one of his periodic anti-immigration rants in an article yesterday entitled “Say Goodbye to Los Angeles.” In the article, Buchanan laments the fact that thousands of people in the Rose Bowl were cheering for Mexico in a soccer match against the United States.
Today there are more than a million Americans living in Mexico. Living permanently, as in retirement. I’m willing to bet that 99 percent of them still cheer for American sports teams. In fact, an article I once read about American retirees in Mexico observed that many of them were not assimilating, were hanging out only among themselves, having outdoor cookouts with hot dogs, and not learning Spanish. Worst of all, I am confident that they all were retaining their U.S. citizenship even though they planned to live the rest of their lives in Mexico.
Who cares? Why not just leave those Americans alone? Aren’t they living life the way they want to? Why should anyone force them to learn Spanish, to assimilate among the local populace, to eat tacos and enchiladas, to cheer only for Mexican sports teams, and give up their U.S. citizenship? Why can’t they simply be Americans who have chosen to live in another country?
Consider foreign tourists to the United States. Suppose the borders were opened during the summer months to anyone from Mexico who wished visit the United States and buy whatever he wanted. Would very many Americans care that the tourists couldn’t speak English? Do we care today when foreign tourists come over here and can’t speak English well? Aren’t most Americans helpful and courteous when foreign tourists ask for help and can’t speak good English? Isn’t that the way American tourists like to be treated when they visit foreign countries?
Wouldn’t American businesses bend over backwards to accommodate an enormous influx of summer customers? Isn’t that what profit-maximization is all about — pleasing the customer? Surely, Wall-Mart wouldn’t lament the fact that its stores were being flooded by people who couldn’t speak English well, would it?
Now, suppose the length of time for Mexican tourists is extended from 3 months to one year? Suppose it’s indefinite — that is, a tourist can stay as along as he wants. Let’s even say that they’re free to work while they’re here and even open up businesses.
How would that be different from millions of Americans working or retiring in Mexico — or Costa Rica — or France — or Italy — or Japan? So what if people of one country are living and working in another country. What difference does it make?
So what, for example, that there are American lawyers and businessmen living in Paris, conducting law or business on an international scale. So what that they retain their American citizenship. So what that they root for American sports teams. What does it matter? France retains its sovereignty and its borders. French citizens retain their French citizenship. Sure, it’s possible that Americans living in Paris might influence the French into adopting some American customs and vice versa. Why is that bad?
In 1848, the U.S. government eagerly incorporated the entire northern half of Mexico into the United States. I sometimes wonder what people like Buchanan think about that. Do they wish that the United States had never done that? Do they wish that the inhabitants had been forcibly sent south — into the half of Mexico that was not being stolen? Do they wish that the United States return the lands, along with all people of Mexican ancestry? Or do they wish that the United States keep the land but force all Hispanics to move to Mexico?
When one nation takes over half of a foreign country, doesn’t it stand to reason that such lands are going to retain the influence of the foreign nation for a long time, perhaps forever?
The lands that the United States took from Mexico had been under Mexican, Spanish, and French law for centuries. The inhabitants spoke Spanish. The cities and street signs were in Spanish. Even Buchanan himself says, “Goodbye to Los Angeles,” when he could have instead chosen to speak English by saying, “Goodbye to The Angels,” which only goes to show how deeply entrenched Mexican language and culture still are inside what used to be Mexico itself.
That’s what all too many Americans like Buchanan tend to forget. This was Mexico that we’re talking about. Imagine if the United States started another war with Mexico to take over the other half — the half that was not taken in the Mexican War. How long would it take to Americanize the other half of Mexico? A very long time!
Buchanan obviously thinks it’s a bad thing that there are so many Hispanics in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas — that is, in the lands that used to be the northern half of Mexico — and elsewhere in the United States. He laments that the “number of Hispanics in the USA will rise from today’s 50 million to 135 million.”
Unfortunately, Buchanan doesn’t explain why more Hispanics is necessarily a bad thing. Are more Anglos in Mexico a bad thing too? I wish Buchanan would visit my hometown of Laredo, Texas, which is located along the Rio Grande and, needless to say, was once part of Mexico. I’d estimate that 97 percent of Laredoans are Hispanic. Many of the daily conversations are in Spanish. Many of the street names are in Spanish. Many of the signs in the stores are in Spanish. In fact, I’d estimate that at least 20 percent of the populace cannot speak English.
That’s how long a nation’s culture lasts when it’s forcibly taken over by another country. Yet, Laredo gets along fine. It’s actually a quite harmonious and prosperous city in the United States. As a matter of fact, Buchanan would be pleased to know that Laredo has the biggest celebration in the country celebrating George Washington’s birthday. Yes, you read that right — the father of our country, not the father of Mexico!
On the other hand, it would undoubtedly disturb Buchanan to know that there are people in Laredo who have close family ties to relatives on the southern side of the Rio Grande. Some Laredoans maintain a closer watch on events in Mexico than they do here in the United States. Some might even say that their hearts are in Mexico, just as Americans living in Mexico might say that their hearts are in the United States. So what? By visiting Laredo, Buchanan might learn to conquer his fears of a Hispanic takeover of America.
At a time when all forms of statism are cracking apart all over the world, someone must lead the world out of the statist morass. That job lies with us libertarians, the only ones who stand consistently for individual liberty, private property, and free markets in all parts of life, including the free movements of goods, services, and people across borders.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.
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